Hey, #diversebooks Fans–Let’s Talk #ownvoices

Hey folks, today we’re going to talk about #ownvoices, the hashtag created by Corinne Duyvis as a way to mark books written by authors who share a diverse identity with their characters.

It’s about a year and a half since Duyvis suggested #ownvoices. It never reached the trending viralness of #weneeddiversebooks, but it’s been growing in popularity as more and more people find it and fall in love. And there is a lot to fall in love with.

Why #OwnVoices?

See, it’s important for authors—all authors to be inclusive in their writing. But it’s hard to write “from the inside” an experience you’ve never had. Someone who has fibromyalgia is going to know things about living with and managing chronic pain that would never occur to someone who is able bodied. And research can only take you so far. If we want our books to be reflective of people’s real experiences, well, they need to be written by people with those experiences.

This doesn’t mean that someone who is able bodied should never write a character with fibromyalgia or that a white author should never write a black character. Our fiction should be as diverse as our world, unless this is a good reason to NOT make it diverse. But if a book is about being black, it should not be written by a white author. If a book is about the experience of being trans, only a trans author can do it justice. And even when a book is not about an identity, the perspective of an author who shares that identity adds depth to the characters.

At Cuil Press, We Love #OwnVoices

Which is why our first several books will be #ownvoices. Not all our books will be #ownvoices, we are open to all inclusive sff and romance. But there is a special place in our slush pile for #ownvoices.

So if you are interested in reading more #ownvoices fiction stay tuned—we got it coming!

Lilith

Michon Neal is the originator of Cuil Press and our resident Gentleman Goddess and visionary. Today ze is sharing a glimpse of Lilith from hir upcoming book In the Time of Toba.

Between the mountains on the far side of our Valley, I saw my beloved friend drop down from rock to rock. With the ease of a treed creature — or perhaps even a skyed one — Lilith bounded along the backs of my beastly brethren, sistren, and otherkin. Her flips and slides and dashes and leaps drew a whirl of dust and particles in her wake that eddied and blossomed behind and around her.

Several Dragons sniffed the air appreciatively, breathing in information on our visitors, digesting her tears and fears. I appreciated the candor that always accompanied Lilith, streaming about her countenance as if it were a set of wings or armor. Across the Valley, wings of crimson, gold, sheer blue, and translucent violet stirred, bringing in the delicious secrets on the wind and in the beams of moonlight. The stars bent their own light to us, rolling through velveteen space and kissed only by time.

With skin the rich brown of fertile, glorious Earth, Lilith drew nearer, with the red moon throwing up highlights of maroon, orange, and purple in the deeper layers of her dermis. A bit of silver edged her curves and angles; she literally shone, lit from within.

Not far behind her, a shadowy figure traversed, mirroring her path in kind, but of a much larger size. A Nephilim, diamond-winged and tall as one of my claws, where she was hardly up to my tooth. He revelled in the essence of her recent past, playing in the memories she’d left behind. He danced into her footsteps, ever the faithful double. With glee, he found his place atop my head as she nestled in by my eye. I could smell him peering down upon her, his curiosity unfurling like the open entrails of one of those delicious unicorns. My tail languidly curled and swung back and forth as I readied myself. Samael was a well of mischief, but he was nothing if not fair.

After all, he wasn’t the Left Hand of God for nothing.

We Are Publishing #Ownvoices Novels

Hey authors,

I was looking at our Twitter feed today and I was kind bummed. We don’t exactly have much there, you know? And it got me thinking about how we look to you. A new publishing company without a single book out. No rep, no resume, our social media is just getting started.

We don’t look like we have much to offer, do we?

That’s going to change. We’re gearing up slowly, because we want what we build to last. But for now, yeah, it doesn’t look like much.

We get that. We get that we need to prove ourselves. To show that we know what we are doing, that we can make your book shine AND make the sales. Just like every other publisher.

But we do have something else we can offer right now. Something specifically for authors of #ownvoices novels.

We understand.

Michon, our Lead Link (think CEO) and Lilith, started Cuil Press because ze wanted more #ownvoices books. Ze has self published hir books, using hir #ownvoice to write characters that reflect hir experiences as a black, queer, intersex, disabled, non-binary person.

And to start Cuil Press, ze recruited some folks who could all tell #ownvoices stories or create #ownvoices art. All of us are in some way marginalized, denied our voices and representation by a mainstream society that doesn’t want to hear us.

We know many of you have been told the same. Told that your #ownvoices novel is too ethnic. Or that readers won’t relate to your disabled characters. Or that you can have a character who is black or queer, but not a black, queer protagonist.

And if you are spoonie and have trouble meeting deadlines, we understand. Many spoonie authors have lost contracts because they couldn’t meet deadlines or have been afraid to try for a contract because of deadlines. We can work with you. We can’t do without deadlines entirely, but we can be flexible, we can reschedule things. As long as you can keep us informed of what is going on, we can adjust deadlines and plans to meet your needs.

We are looking for #ownvoices novels. We will be publishing adult fantasy, science fiction, and romance. We welcome diverse books from authors who are not writing #ownvoices fiction, but our priority, our focus is #ownvoices.

One day we will have the book catalog, the proud list of best sellers, the social media accounts with thousands of followers. We aren’t going to stop until we do.

But on that day this will still be the thing that sets us apart. #ownvoices

Welcome to Cuil Press

Cuil PressHi folks, welcome to Cuil Press!

Cuil Press is a new ebook publisher with 1 book currently in production and getting ready to accept open submissions. Our focus is #ownvoices and #diversevoices romance and speculative fiction, but we won’t turn our noses up at stories from other genres that catch our interest.

Our commitment to diversity begins “at home,” our production team includes PoC, queer, trans, asexual, aromantic, and more people living with chronic illness and disability than you can shake a spoon at.

Partly because of those chronic illnesses and disabilities, we’re looking at a gradual buildup. We don’t want to explode on publishing scene like a fireworks display. We want to be the tree of our logo, putting out roots and leaves, growing slowly, but also growing strong. And like a well-tended tree will outlive the person that plants it, we hope that Cuil Press will outlast its founders to become a bastion of the publishing industry.

As part of growing slowly, we will be adding to our website over the next few months. Starting with a blog. (Yes, usually folks build a website and add a blog to it. We’re not exactly fond of ’usually’ around here.) The blog will be running Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting in June.

So welcome again—we know the place is a bit empty right now, but that’ll be changing. And we hope you’ll stick around to see it happen.